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News Release

USDA Continues its Unprecedented Soil Survey of Denver County

Contact:
Petra Popiel
720-544-2808


Denver 2021 Soil Survey

DENVER, CO. Sept. 14, 2021 - USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) partnered with the City and County of Denver to conduct a field inventory of soil resources within Denver County. The project began in October 2019 and is slated for completion by the end of 2021.

“It’s rare for a large, urban, metropolis to have such a high priority when it comes to soil survey’s” said Andy Steinert, NRCS Major Land Resource Area (MLRA) Soil Survey Leader in Fort Morgan. “Our typical priority areas include cropland and rangelands. However, today we have a better understanding of urban soils function and a better ability to identify and map them”.

To gather information for a soil survey, soil scientists traverse the land on foot to examine the soil in great detail. They dig between five to seven feet by hand-shoveling or by hand-auguring. They then place the excavated soil on a tarp, and begin to study the layers, also called horizons. They record various properties of the soil, such as soil texture, organic matter, color, pH, etc. This information is then uploaded into a national soils database where it is merged with spatial data which is then used to create digital maps.

The digital maps illustrate soil types and locations while the database provides additional information, including chemical, physical, and engineering properties, along with suitability’s and limitations of the soil. In the end, soil surveys are extremely useful planning tools that can be used in design decisions for gardens, home construction, erosion control, park management sites, flood risk management, ecosystem and waterway restorations, water conservation plans, and recreational use planning. “While gathering samples, our team has had a lot of interest from the public in what we are doing,” Steinert goes on to say. “The equipment we use is hard to miss and that generates a lot of curiosity and some concern, until they find out what’s actually going on. After a little explanation, everyone is quite pleased with what we’re doing and how the information may be used.”

Upon completion, the Denver County soil survey will be published online to the Web Soil Survey (WSS) where those interested can create a soil map and learn about the soils on their property. WSS is updated annually, it is free to the public and can be accessed at https://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/.

For more information about soil surveys in urban areas please visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/soils/use/urban/. Interested property owners in the Denver County area should contact Andy Steinert at andy.steinert@usda.gov or 970-867-8568 x3359. You may also write to:

USDA NRCS
Fort Morgan MLRA Soil Survey Office
200 West Railroad Ave.
Fort Morgan, CO 80701
Attn: Andy Steinert, MLRA Soil Survey Leader

 

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